Above: Mashpi Lodge and the cloud forest at sunset

An Evening Out: Night Hike at Mashpi Lodge

One of the most memorable activities at Mashpi Lodge was a night hike through the cloud forest. We started our evening with a visit to the Life Centre, part of the lodge that focuses on research, learning and education. From there we gazed across a valley lined by jungle-clad mountains, and on the terrace, we identified numerous birds coming to feed, plus a raccoon-sized tayra, a type of local weasel.

As dusk fell, the countless butterflies held in a screened enclosure became more active. Most spectacular were the yellow-edged giant owl butterflies, which have disorienting eyespots on their wings. Once it was fully dark, we turned on our flashlights and started along the trail back to the lodge. Along the way we spotted oddly shaped katydids and two large and hairy tarantulas.

At one point, our guide stopped and instructed us to turn off our lights; after a few moments, our eyes adjusted sufficiently to see what had drawn his attention: bioluminescent fungus. It grew on a pile of twigs, making them look like dim glow sticks. A child in our group picked up one of the longest, and holding the blue twig with formidable dignity, declared himself to be a Jedi.

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